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Portabliss: Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (Vita)


Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack.

I've never seen The Blob, neither the '50s or '80s version, but I was always terrified of the concept as a child. Just imagine it: a sentient, gelatinous mass that grows larger and larger as it absorbs everything around it, eventually becoming so massive it threatens to consume the world itself. It's a horrifying reality to contemplate, but it turns out to be good conceit for a video game.

Blobs have feelings too, you see. That's the case made by Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. As evil scientist probe, prod and experiment upon a group (pack? gaggle?) of interstellar blobs, one decides to rise up against his oppressors. So begins Mutant Blobs Attack, as the green menace seeks revenge for its tortured brethren -- revenge against planet Earth.

Mechanically, there's not much difference between Mutant Blobs Attack and its PS3 predecessor, About a Blob. Mutant Blobs Attack is a 2D platformer for the most part, with a handful of puzzle elements thrown into the mix.

The blob has a few different abilities, including wall jumping, magnetism, telekinesis and, occasionally, flight. Players will spend most of their time jumping from place to place, absorbing enough material and growing larger until the blob is big enough to absorb whatever obstacle is blocking the entrance to the next area.

On paper, it sounds something like a 2D version of Katamari Damacy, but the focus isn't on the blob reaching a certain diameter so much as it is on a series of platforming challenges. Wall jumping is self-explanatory, but the magnetism element makes for some tricky situations. A pull of the left shoulder button will allow the blob to cling to certain surfaces, while the right shoulder button will repel him, allowing for precision floating or magnetically boosted jumps.

New to Mutant Blobs Attack is the ability to fly, which is only available in certain areas. Using some kind of exhaust as a propellent -- I shudder to think of where it comes from -- the blob can fly in any direction. Flight speed can be boosted by pulling a shoulder button or pressing the rear touch pad. I was actually unaware of this until the game told me, as I was always resting my fingers on the touch pad anyway.

Also unique to Mutant Blobs Attack is telekinesis, which allows the blob to manipulate certain objects using the touch screen. Some can be dragged in different directions, others can be rotated and all serve to solve various puzzles. Some of the more interesting conundrums involve moving a platform to fling the blob into an unreachable area. One in particular stumped me for a good minute or two, before I realized I was supposed to use the platforms to bring food to the blob, and not the other way around.

The campaign features bonus levels that utilise the Vita's tilt sensor as well. These are essentially an homage to Labyrinth and similar maze puzzles. By tilting the Vita, players guide the blob around a maze, gathering points and avoiding pitfalls. It's a simple distraction, sure, but it's a nice way to break up the usual platforming levels, and it makes good use of the tilt sensor.

In fact, Mutant Blobs Attack does a great job of utilizing the Vita's features. Rather than using the system's inputs for the sake of using them -- as many Vita launch titles have -- Mutant Blobs Attack actually uses the hardware's unique features in a way that makes sense. Throw in charming visuals, great music and plenty of humor and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack becomes an easily recommended download for any Vita owner.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is available for $8 on PSN. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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